Wine Cellars Refrigeration Units in Wine Cellars – the bigger the better?
Achieving the right climate in custom wine cellars is not just all about the size of the wine cellar refrigeration system.
Having wine cellar refrigeration units that are too big for the space can actually be the cause of inefficiencies. The goal in a custom wine cellar is to create the ideal stable environment to allow proper aging of wine with the minimum use of energy to maintain it.
Factors to take into account – Wine Cellar Refrigeration Units
- Local climate, this can vary dramatically depending upon where you are in the country. San Francisco California can be quite different to San Diego California. New York, Maine or Florida are further examples of extremely different climates. Most people do not realize the extent to which temperature varies in rooms in their homes in day to night cycles let alone variances in day night cycles in the winter vs. the summer.
- The location in the home of the wine cellar can make a lot of difference. Wine cellars that are in a basement surrounded by concrete may have quite different requirements to maintain stability as compared to a room with two outside walls on the south face of the home.
Insulation therefore can be a critical influence and getting that just right can be a defining factor in a wine cellars refrigeration units life span. Too little insulation or the wrong type of insulation can cause a wine cellar refrigeration system to run much more than necessary. We have seen many a wine cellar cooling systems fail due to poor insulation. Poor insulation can be due to not correctly insulating the ceiling or the floor not just the “R” value of the product used.
- The size of the room is a more obvious factor, while generally larger rooms require larger systems, larger wine rooms also have greater inertial temperature, meaning smaller rooms can fluctuate more readily than larger rooms.
- The actual construction material of the walls and ceiling also make a huge difference. It’s not unusual to have a whole glass wall in a wine cellar. In fact this is often a desired feature due to the attractive nature of custom wine cellars.
- Lighting gives off heat. Some wine cellars are designed to be lit even when no one is in them for display purposes. Our clients tend to be very proud of their wine cellars and quite rightly want to show them off at every opportunity. Installing low heat emitting lighting is therefore a must for wine cellars.
- Vapor barriers incorrectly installed or not installed at all can also be a critical factor in creating a stable environment. Air holds less water when it cools so even a slight fluctuation in temperature can result in condensation. This too can be dramatically affected by local climate, with some states being significantly more humid than others. Get this wrong and condensation can form ultimately causing mold, bad smells and mechanical problems. Even a small amount of condensation can, over time, ruin a wine cellar.
- Wine Cellar Doors are another major factor that can contribute to a problematic and inefficient wine cellar refrigeration system. Essentially a wine cellar door is a moving part that must seal the room completely. This is why we always recommend installing purpose built custom wine cellar doors in climate controlled wine cellars. The custom wine cellar doors that we produce, as well as sealing all the way around the door, also have a special mechanical device that drops into place on the bottom of the door when it is closed but retracts on opening to avoid the seal failing and to reduce wear and tear.
All in all, a stable and efficient climate controlled wine cellar is about a balance of factors, the right insulation for the local climate, the location in the home, the right insulation correctly applied, the vapor barrier and the seals in and out of the wine room, the material used in the construction of the walls and the lighting, all these factors need to be balanced with the right size wine cellar refrigeration units for the size of the room.
Bottom line – Does Size Matter with Wine Cellar Refrigeration Units?
It’s about balance not just size. Balance is better than Bigger. The biggest mistake we see people make is in choosing to contract with a general builder to build their wine cellar just to save a few bucks up front. In the long term they pay the price with issues of mold, wine cellar cooling units failing and wine that has aged poorly due to continuously fluctuating temperatures.